QAA Institutional Review 2013 Action Plan with Commentary [DOCX 27.36KB]

Summary action plan in response to QAA Institutional Review 2013
Commentary updated, September 2014
The University of Sussex welcomes the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Institutional Review Report on the quality of teaching and learning and the
student experience at Sussex. The Report confirms that the academic standard of the University’s awards meet UK expectations. It also recognises the
range and quality of support provided by the University for students and confirms that the University meets UK expectations in this regard.
The University of Sussex response to the QAA’s findings were set out in the institution’s Action Plan. The Action Plan has now been updated with progress
to date and is included below.
Review, improve, and where
appropriate, widen the range of
mechanisms for all students to
make an effective contribution to
quality assurance and quality
enhancement, by the
commencement of the academic
year 2014-15.
University initial action and commentary
The University of Sussex Senate approved
revised quality assurance arrangements in
March 2013 that extend the range of
opportunities for student representatives to
participate in decision-making bodies. This
includes a new Student Services Committee
which will monitor support services and related
In June Senate approved the restructuring of
Academic Registry to create the offices of
Academic Development and Quality
Enhancement and Technology Enhanced
Learning. The functions of the Teaching &
Learning Enhancement Unit were transferred to
these offices from 1st October 2013.
Progress update, September 2014
The University has continued to extend
opportunities for students to engage in the
management of quality and standards.
Examples of progress with this recommendation
since the first iteration of the action plan include:
The introduction of new student-led
teaching awards, enabling students to
contribute to recognising and sharing
outstanding practice in teaching and
learning in the institution;
The appointment of an Enhancement
Manager in the Academic Registry with
responsibility for strengthened central
policy and administrative support for the
student representative scheme;
Full and meaningful participation of
students in key working groups, for
example relating to the structure of the
academic year, the development of the
academic framework and support
arrangements for joint honours students.
Lead responsibility
PVC Teaching and
Development priorities relating to this action for
2014/15 include:
Expedite the resolution of
shortcomings it has identified in the
management and support of
postgraduate research students, by
the commencement of the
academic year 2013.
The enhancement plan agreed by the Doctoral
Studies Committee in 2012 has been
implemented by the University. Key initiatives
include the appointment of a new Director of
Doctoral Education to provide strategic oversight
of doctoral research, supported by a newly
established Doctoral Studies Committee. In
addition the University has also re-organised
research student administration to provide a
more coherent and efficient service to
applicants, students and staff.
The University commissioned the HEA run
Postgraduate Research Survey (PRES) in
March 2013 and will continue to undertake the
survey every year to provide an external
performance benchmark. A PRES Action Plan
is being overseen by this new DDE and the DS
A working group of the Teaching and
Learning Committee to review how
feedback from students is collected and
acted upon, including the use of surveys
and module evaluation questionnaires.
Further enhancement of published
information for first year students,
including details of how students can
engage in the management of quality
and standards
Actions taken to address this recommendation
since the last action plan include:
A newly-created Research Student
Administration Office taken over
responsibility for PGR admissions,
creating a single point of contact for
PGR students from application to award
Lack of PGR representation in
University structures rectified by
amendments to committee
memberships enshrined in the
Organisation of the University document
New Handbook for Doctoral
Researchers produced incorporating
codes of practice and regulations;
website created as a central repository
of information about doctoral studies
PVC Research
As part of current updates to the
institutional Learning and Teaching
Strategy more clearly define and
promote its approach to
enhancement, specifically
identifying areas or activities to be
addressed, with timescales, by the
commencement of the academic
year 2014-15.
The new University of Sussex Strategic Plan
covering the period 2013-18 has been
developed in consultation with staff and
students. A revised T & L Strategy and plan will
be developed during the 13/14 session. The
Plan will be underpinned by an explicit
operational and enhancement plan, including
timescales and measures of success. Progress
with the plan will be overseen by University
Teaching and Learning Committee and Senate.
Review of progress monitoring and
annual review process to maintain
academic standards, support students
and meet UKVI and funding body
Review of space allocation for doctoral
students across the University to ensure
a high quality research environment
Review of teaching contract for doctoral
students to create equal access to
teaching across the academic Schools
Research governance officer appointed
to ensure research integrity issues are
addressed at doctoral level
As noted in the original action plan, the
University has re-structured its Academic
Registry to include an Academic Development
and Quality Enhancement (ADQE) Office and a
Technology-Enhanced Learning (TEL) Office.
The ADQE Office includes a manager role
focused specifically on quality enhancement.
Both offices are now fully staffed. These
changes signal the University’s commitment to
quality enhancement, supporting a programme
of work which in 2014/15 will include:
Redevelopment of the Learning and
Teaching Strategy with a focus on
PVC (teaching and
learning), &
Academic Registrar
The Review Team affirmed the
ongoing work by the University and
the student body to develop a
Student Charter, or equivalent
document, with the aim of more
clearly defining mutual expectations
of the institution and its students.
University initial action and commentary
The University has established a student/staff
joint working party to develop a partnership
approach to the University of Sussex Student
Charter. Work will be completed in 2014.
Validation of a new PGCert in Higher
Education, accompanied by explicit restatement of the University requirements
in relation to qualifications for teaching
The introduction of electronic
assessment submission and feedback
to enhance the experience of
assessment for students
A strengthened role for the Teaching
and Learning Strategic Enhancement
Sub-Committee in monitoring
institutional progress with enhancement
Progress update, September 2014
The University and USSU continue to
collaborate on the development of the Charter. A
number of externally-facilitated workshops have
been held and discussions about the final
content of the Charter are in progress.
Lead responsibility
PVC Teaching and
Learning and USSU
Features of good practice
The QAA review team identified the following features of good practice at the University of Sussex.
The carefully planned and executed three-stage Portfolio Review (comprising strategic engagement, curriculum development and
enhancement, and School Periodic Review) conducted across the University and involving all taught and research provision between 2010-11
and April 2012, leading to widespread curriculum redesign.
The range, variety and accessibility of academic and personal support available to students.
The process of restructuring the academic year - including careful preparation, planning, consultation and monitoring of the process leading to
the redesign and implementation of the new structure for the academic year, and its associated mid-year assessment period.